Sunday, January 27, 2008

Iraq, Somalia, Pakistan, and...Mexico???

While most of us Americans who pay any attention to what is happening anywhere outside our own borders in the first place are focused on Islamic countries, Latin America is still here, as shown by this extremely disconcerting note from Adam Isaacson, one of the most reliable Latin American bloggers:

" Mexico, a top defense official made an absolutely stunning admission: more than 100,000 soldiers have deserted Mexico’s army in the last seven years - and
many of them are now in the service of narcotraffickers. Yet Mexico’s police are
at least as troubled: in three important border towns this week, the Mexican
forced municipal police to cede control, citing widespread allegations that local law-enforcement was deeply infiltrated by drug cartels. Meanwhile Congress is still considering a Bush administration proposal to give hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Mexico’s security forces."

According to a Mexican official quoted in the Mexican press,

Más de 100 mil militares han desertado del Ejército mexicano en los
últimos siete años, algunos de los cuales han engrosado las filas de los grupos
criminales, en particular del narcotráfico
, afirmó hoy el subsecretario de la
Defensa Nacional, Tomás Ángeles Dahuajare.

One might say that the important point is what is meant by the word "algunos" (some), which is just as vague in Spanish as in English, but the existence of such a career path at all is really the troubling part. Indeed, the official noted that the trend is growing. This hints at an underlying social dynamic that might theoretically be dangerously nonlinear.

Anyone have anything to add on this issue?

An invitation:

From my vantage point as an observer of politics in the Islamic world, this Mexican story sounds way too familiar. If it were Afghanistan or Pakistan, the knee-jerk American reaction would be to blame it on al Qua'ida or Sunnis or the Islamic faith; if it were Iraq, the knee-jerk reaction would be to blame it on Iran. To get away from such simplistic mental models and force ourselves to examine real social dynamics, I would propose an analysis of social collapse that compares Latin American cases with cases in the Islamic world.

I know, this crosses institutional boundaries. How would we ever get Latin American and Islamic specialists in the same room??? All I can say is, "This is important, folks. South Waziristan on the Texas border is not something we really need to live through."

Anyone interested in organizing a little workshop?

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